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Rules Update
Posted by:  ELLIOTT@



In addition to the changes to the junivi and enchantments from yesterday, the Acitius staff has realized that there is a distinct gap in the Rules in regards to custom pets. As such, we have extended Rule 2 to offer guidelines on what is - and is not - acceptable behavior in regards to custom pets.

Rule 2 now reads, in full:



2. If it is not yours, leave it alone. This means you should not attempt to gain access to another user’s account or anything located therein. Attempting to gain access to another user’s account may result in the banning of your own account, and may result in a permanent ban from the site.

2a. Do not impersonate other users, even as a joke. Impersonating staff members may result in the banning of your account.

2b. Do not claim other’s artwork as your own, or do anything else which implies you are the rightful owner and/or creator of content that you do not own/did not create. If you want to use someone else’s work, ask them and respect their wishes. It is a good idea to keep documentation of their permission on hand, as Acitius Staff may ask for proof.

2c. Users may create custom pets of officially licensed or otherwise copyrighted characters, however the art used must be explicitly created for use as a custom pet image on Acitius.com. Custom pet art of these characters must differ enough stylistically from the character's original iteration that Acitius staff can easily tell that the art has not been traced, copied, or otherwise stolen from the source material.

2d. While users are welcome to use official Acitius art on the Acitius website, as well as custom pet images, you must include the following disclaimer if you use these materials anywhere off of the site: “Copyright 2009-2017 Acitius, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission”.

2e. In cases where custom pets are sold, the purchasing user gains rights to make changes to the pet's name, stats, level, gamma, foods eaten, books read, relationship, dating presents, sacred stones, armory equipment, custom BFF pages, and profile page. The new owner gains the rights to use the pet's custom species name and the pet's custom art on Acitius.com at their discretion; these rights do not, however, extend off site. The new owner gains the right to recustomize the pet if so chosen, and may choose for this art to imitate any prior custom pet art attached to the pet. Purchasers do not gain rights to any "original characters" that may have been attached to the custom pet, and therefore the original creator of a custom pet may create a similar pet in the future, so long as they do not reuse art attached to the sold custom pet.

2f. Custom pets and/or their designs may not be sold, traded, or otherwise given to others off site, nor may they be sold on-site for real life money. In cases where custom art is created through an on-site contest, the user running the contest becomes the rightful owner to any, and all, submissions unless otherwise stated and may be the sole user of these materials on Acitius.com.

(paragraph spacing has been exaggerated for ease of reading)

You may notice that these additions do not read "effective as of x date"; this is because these changes are retroactive and apply to any, and all, custom pets on Acitius.com.

We understand, however, that this rule may unfairly target certain custom pets, specifically customized versions of licensed characters, and custom pets whose art was not specifically created for use as a custom pet but the customizer received permission from the original artist. Because of this, any custom pets that exist on the site as of October 9, 2017 which fall into these two categories will be allowed to continue to exist on-site. However, owners of these customs will be encouraged to contact staff for a refund so that they may recustomize their pets to abide by these new rules.

If you are not sure if your custom pets abide by these rules, don't be afraid to ask!

Finally, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and staff will do their best to answer them.

Comments (14)

Does this mean we are allowed to create copies of someone else's design or OC, as long as we've asked an artist to redraw it? What if minor tweaks are made to that design, but it's still recognizable as being heavily inspired if not ripped off?
@Luckyclaw
Because original characters are an inherently subjective thing (and because no single individual is able to claim exclusive ownership to certain character traits/ideas), the short answer to your question is that yes, people are technically allowed to create customs that have similarities to already existing customs, so long as the art itself is not reused.

That being said, this isn't a particularly new rule; general custom pet etiquette has stated for a long time to try and avoid copying the design of an existing custom pet. Of course, however, design overlap isn't specifically against the rules; if it were, we would have to ban and remove all fanpet customs, several general customs which were inspired by existing customs, and any other customs that share too similar of base ideas.
I didn't realize that this was a problem. At least this problem has been clarified and resolved.
@ELLIOTT@ Subjective inspiration and design overlap is one unavoidable thing, but when designs are being directly ripped off, this is a very disappointing answer. In this clarification, you've essentially stated that it's okay to steal an artist's existing design as long as you can draw a very similar character that doesn't trace that art, regardless of that artist's wishes.

This completely invalidates the idea of purchasing designs, just as long as you get someone to draw a new picture for you. "Try to avoid stealing" has no force behind it if it isn't backed up with site regulation (or community backlash but that's something that happens when site regulation isn't strong). If a person can prove that a pet design was stolen, especially in an instance where that design was being sold, I would hope that the stolen design would be removed. Apparently this is not so.

The lack of protection for their designs harms artists. There's a balance between freedom to upload and basic protections for someone's creativity, and there are a lot of gray areas but lines have to be drawn. I'm part of some artist-heavy communities who had taken interest in Acitius, but they were scared off by issues of designs being stolen. I was really hoping this would be a change.
tbh one of my friend's art has ended up on this site as a custom pet (in at least one instance that i'm aware of), and i seriously doubt whoever uploaded it got her permission lmao so yeah it's a problem

edit;
looked through the list of custom pets and i can't find it, so i assume it's been deleted or changed, but i DO remember it was a feline that someone had just absolutely destroyed with a gamma orb
@Luckyclaw
Unfortunately, that's the compromise we had to make.

As I mentioned before, Acitius has a high number of custom pets based on copyrighted characters (including Acitius species) and, because they have been allowed to exist on the site for so long, we decided it would not be fair to the owners to force them to be removed. Additionally, while I understand your concerns about art theft, there is no possible way for staff to confirm, without doubt, that one person's original character does not simply coincidentally resemble another's.

If we were to disallow customs which resemble each other (either design-wise or inspiration-wise) for fear of possible art/design theft, we would have to remove a significant number of custom pets. We would also have to put limitations on who gets to own the single on-site custom pet version of characters like Sonic or Pikachu, or of abstract designs like "neon wolf" or "swamp witch". This is something which we don't feel is fair to users.

@Taylor
I'm sorry that managed to get past us. While we do our best to catch pure art theft, we're still a small staff and things sometimes get past us. Let me know if anything comes up in the future!
Just a question: What about custom art that was made from say, a free to use base? Most free to use base creators usually want credit (which is totally understandable) but say their base can be used for anything as long as they are given the credit of creating the base.
@Kaldorei
As long as the original base creator states their bases are free for you to use, and as long as you credit the base creator on the pet's profile, using a base should be okay. Just make sure you check that the artist is still allowing the base to be used every now and then!
Also make sure to credit the person who made changes/additions/etc to the base (even if it was you).
@ELLIOTT@ That's what I thought, thanks!
Thanks for confirming people are allowed to steal characters and designs on here as long as they use their own artwork!
A user on Acitius, TK, has made a variety of disparaging remarks about Elliott, Rat, myself, and the rest of the staff on Acitius. In brief, here is the truth about what happened for those that have read TK's account on tumblr: Almost two years ago now, many staff members on Acitius, including Elliott, left staff in a mass exodus due to issues with the former site owner, Ace/Darryl. After leaving staff, Elliott chose to quit the site and sold off many of his pets, including several custom pets. One of these pets was Dessert, which was posted in pet sales for 500 AP (the minimum amount) and purchased from pet sales by me. A couple weeks later, I sold the pet to TK (going by the username Prince at the time) for the pet Night. The custom pet was sold via pet sales on Acitius, and there was no statement included in the sale by me, or by Elliott when he sold the pet to me originally, regarding whether the original character or design/idea of the character, which was created by Haunt based on instructions from Elliott, would be included in the sale. Elliott had a design in mind and held a custom pet contest on Acitius to have the image done based on specific design features that he laid out in the post he made for the custom pet contest. Consequently, the original character/design idea for the character was by Elliott, and it was created by Haunt based on those ideas.

Fast forward a year and a half, and Elliott returned to the site when I purchased it in March 2017. Elliott reached out to TK to attempt to buy the pet back, as it was an original character he was fond of and art he was fond of, but TK refused to sell. Elliott respected TK's wishes. Months later Elliott noticed that TK had completely deleted the pet from the site, and consequently, the custom pet image was no longer being used on the site. Since it was no longer in use, Elliott commissioned Rat to draw a new image of their original character, Dessert, which would be renamed Caramel. Elliott later found out, from TK, that TK had sold the pet design to a user on another pet site without obtaining Elliott's permission. This was despite TK knowing that Elliott wanted to purchase this character back, if TK were to decide to sell.

Upon discovering the creation of Caramel, TK sent repeated mails to Elliott and myself, before posting several posts to tumblr disparaging staff before we even had time to send a response. They also recreated the original custom pet as Bell. The crux of the issue is the idea that when a custom pet is sold on Acitius, unless stated otherwise, the original character/design concept isn't sold with the character. While the user gains the right to use the image on Acitius, they do not have the right to sell or trade an image from a custom pet they have purchased on Acitius to anyone off of the site. In summary, Elliott was the one who came up with the ideas for the design and Haunt brought that design to life through a custom pet contest on Acitius. TK has the rights to use that image on Acitius, but TK didn't gain the rights to the design/concept or the original character by purchasing the custom pet from pet sales, only the single custom pet image that was included with the pet sale. TK has repeatedly lied and clearly filled in blanks in their memory to fit their own agenda because I refused to remove Elliott's new custom image for Caramel, which is similar to the image for Bell, since Elliott was the one who came up with the idea for the design of both characters.
This has turned into quite the fiasco. ) : Oh boy.
Ok, now this makes more sense.
ehhh this is a tricky situation.

No, when you sold that pet to TK, you did not specifically state that the character design would be included. However, you also never said that it wasn't (I assume because you did not mention otherwise in the post), and I can absolutely see why TK, or anyone purchasing a custom pet, would assume that the design would be included in their purchase especially since these rules were not in place when the transaction occurred. I have sold custom pets before that used an image of my design, drawn for me in a custom pet contest like the one described, and when I sold it, I was conceding both the design and the pet itself as it existed on Acitius. If I didn't want the new owner to use the pet's design I would have explicitly stated so or changed the pet's image before I sold it. I wouldn't be upset or surprised if I saw that the new owner was using the character on another site or had since sold the design down the road. Likewise, if I had purchased a custom pet from someone, I would assume I was also buying the design, unless I was told otherwise. That's just me though. Obviously others feel differently which is why it's good these terms have been clarified!

Eh, I don't know. Way back when custom pets were first launched on the original iteration of this site, it felt like a much smaller internet. The userbase skewed younger so users didn't have a ton of expendable income at their disposal. Custom characters were a novelty, something that felt very unique to AMZ, and very few people actually had them. Most who did had images drawn by staff artists. I don't believe pets based on copyrighted characters were allowed at all, and that was probably for the best (and I know that makes me a hypocrite owning both Godzilla and Rarity haha.) It seemed a lot easier to regulate back then.

Tracking down stolen art is a lot harder now even with reverse image searching. Finding the art, contacting the artist, asking if such-and-such user had been given permission to use the image... That's not even getting into the concept of original characters and character design. I got to a point while I was still on staff where I thought it might be easier to only allow images drawn by members of the site or to just get rid of custom pets altogether.

It's a shame that those posts were made before you had a chance to respond to the complaints privately though.



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